Alfa Romeo Forum banner
1 - 15 of 15 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,165 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Well I've been looking forward to doing this for a long time, it's something I've always wanted to do myself, just for satisfaction really. I've been buying bits and tools every month and just got the last piece, a set of these https://www.machinemart.co.uk/shop/product/details/clarke-cht747-1000kg-professional-coil-spring.

Anyway, in the true tradition of AO, I thought I'd do a guide.

1. Make sure your phone is charged up, you'll need it.
2. Find a copy of Yellow Pages.
3. Find a specialist garage.
4. Phone em and beg em to change your suspension.
5. Take it to them, drop it off..
6. Do something with your Kids.
7. Pick it up and pay.
8. Enjoy!

In all seriousness, unless you already have the full complement of tools below, aren't keen on getting hang nails, uncleanable finger nails, stiff legs or have shed loads of patience, leave this to a pro and happily pay them. The front suspension is pretty easy IF none of the bolts are seized, unfortunately on my 6 year old car, they were pretty much corrosion welded in place.

The other thing to bear in mind is that you'll need an alignment afterwards and you want someone who knows what they're doing on your Alfa doing that, so my advice is just get them them to do the whole lot. If you do decide to do it then this is a great guide for the rears http://www.alfaowner.com/Forum/alfa-159-brera-and-946-spider/350505-how-to-rear-suspension-change-part-1-a.html

and a few tips I picked up whilst doing the fronts (I've now had the drivers side off 5 times, so it really is easy enough when you've dealt with the corroded stuff)

Here's what I needed.

Ideally 2 x 1/2" rachets.
2 x 18mm sockets for the lower damper securing bolt. Or one socket and a spanner.
17mm ratchet spanner and 5mm allen key for upper wishbone ball joint.
18mm rachet spanner for the drop links and either allen key, torx keys or with my Meyle HD links- a 5/8" spanner to stop it spinning.
5/8" socket for top mount (engine bay) bolts. Get a deep one then u can use it for damper thread bolt.
21mm and E18 torx socket for fork to lower wishbone bolt.
Bottle jack
Jacks and axle stands
Impact wrench (I didn't have, wish I had, so many times)
Coil spring compressors and full face mountain bike helmet with goggles!
4" ANGLE GRINDER
Ball joint splitter just in case

You can read through the rest of the thread to see what a potential ball ache his job can be, but here's a quick step by step guide that works if you're lucky enough that the previous owner took it all apart and copper slipped it for you. If he/she did, it'll take about 40 mins to jack a front up, strip down, rebuild and jack down. If it's old kit as mine was, it took me a day for one corner, that aint worth it! Here's my method, might not be the right/best way, but it works.

1. Chock the wheels, jack up BOTH front sides (even if just doing one side) and support on axle stands. (if you didn't know this, stop reading and go see your Alfa specialist)
2. Undo the top drop link bolt (if it's old, just angle grind the nut off, PIA removing otherwise)
3.Undo lower damper securing bolt. (this is where an impact wrench might save 2 or 3 hours)There'll be a hose attached to this, remove it from it's mount otherwise you'll probably damage it at step 6/7.
4. Put a bottle jack under the lower wishbone, close to the hub.
5. Undo the 21mm nut from the E18 torx bolt that goes through the lower fork/ lower wishbone.
6. With the bottle jack supporting the lower wishbone, undo the 17mm bolt from the upper wishbone ball joint, shouldn't need a ball joint splitter here, should just knock out.
7. Release the bottle jack so the hub can drop, keep an eye out that no brake lines are getting caught /pulled tight-they shouldn't be, but check anyway.
8. You might need to knock the top of the fork to release the damper bottom.
9. Undo the three 5/8" nuts from the top mount from inside the engine bay, when the nuts are nearly off, keep hold of the coil over in case it drops on a brake line.
10. You can now remove the damper as the fork will have dropped.
11. Mark a line on the the coil over top mount in line with the lower bolt guide on the damper, makes it easier to line up the new shock/spring. I sprayed a bit of silicone between spring and rubber of top mount, otherwise it's very hard to rotate top mount should you be a bit off line between top mount guide/bolts and lower damper bolt guide.
12. Compress spring, don't worry if you look a spanner in your full face helmet, it beats dying.
13. An impact wrench gun might help here, but you need to remove the top damper nut. One of mine came off with a socket, the other span the damper shaft, if this happens, you could wrap some inner tube around the shaft then mole grips to stop it spinning. If that doesn't work, then you've just realised another reason you should've gone to a pro. Unlikely you'll get an angle grinder between the coils to make some spanner flats.
13. Assuming nut is off, you can pull damper out of spring. Compress new spring, put rubber spring seat from original damper onto new damper, push damper up through spring then shove original bump stop and dust cover over shaft.
14. Make sure spring is compressed enough that you can push top mount on to damper rod until it hits the stop. ( I may have screwed up here, not making sure it was right up to it's stop, even 3mm off will end up sounding terrible in car)
15. With the new coilover made up push it up into the bodywork and put the nuts on.
16. Push the fork up so the damper bottom slots into it, you may need to knock the fork up- I sprayed some WD40 to help.
17. Use your bottle jack to push the lower wishbone up so it alignes with the fork holes. Push the bolt in.
18. Put back in lower damper bolt, drop link bolt, brake, torque up.


The rest of the thread was written after this guide, so you can get an idea of how little fun it was.



I could've easily paid for this to be done, but I honestly thought it would be fun and had to get it out of my system.

Everything started fairly well, but the bolt that holds the shock into the fork took me around 2 hours to get out, it was totally stuck with corrosion from the alloy fork.

Unpacked the new ball joint splitter to find one prong had broken off. I also thought I had all the sockets I'd need, but alas, no 18mm sockets or spanners, so had to make another trip out only to discover later a 17mm deep socket would've been handy for the shock absorber nut. Gotta make sure you have all the tools before this job.

I've pretty much got one front back together, new upper wishbone, shock mount, Bilstein B4, Eibach pro kit spring, Meyle HD drop links (which are a dream because you can get a spanner on them instead of an allen or hex key).

I've got new track rod ends too, but I was going to get them put on when the alignment is being done. Unfortunately, they were Torx key and I've managed to round the slot off, so it just keeps spinning. So it looks like I'm going to have to grind it off and replace it. If anyone can advise me on this, that'd be great.

I'm thinking if i measure from the end of the rubber gaiter to the middle of the track rod ball joint?

Also, how do they come off? Do you literally just unwind them off the threaded bar or does the threaded bar spin when you try to do so?

Here's what I did, if anyone can suggest an easier way, please, please bring it on as i still have the other side to do.

Slackened off the 3 strut mount bolts in engine bay.
pulled brake cables out of their holders and secured elsewhere.
Undid top wishbone ball joint, release wishbone.
Undid anti roll bar drop link.
Undid track rod end ball joint. Not sure if this was required, but didn't want to stress it too much when the hub dropped.
Took the Fur King bolt out of the fork that holds the damper, this is massively corroded, so hone your swearing skills before attempting removal.
Let the hub drop, supported with bottle jack. Hope that damper releases from fork-it didn't for me!
Remove top strut nuts from engine bay, I hoped to be able to remove the coil over now but it wouldn't pass the upper wishbone, so I had to fart around taking the wishbone off with the coil over partially in the way.
Coilover still too long to come out, so it was either a case of compressing the spring, but my compressor weighs a lot, or removing the lower fork bolt which I did and thankfully it came out easily enough.
The fork will then drop onto the driveshaft (be careful not to damage gaiter).
Pull coilover out. I marked a paint line up from damper bolt hole, up centre springs and to top mount to make it easier to line the new top mount up.
Strip it down and put the rubber spring seat on to the new damper along with bump stop and cover. Copy the line up marks onto new top mount as it's hard to spin into alignment once the spring is active. You really want one of those tools the specialists use where you can put an allenkey or similar inside a socket, I haven't got one so had to hold the shock rod with mole grips to stop it turning whilst tightening up the top bolt.
Put the new coil over back in (a mate would be perfect at this point), struggle to get the bolts and guide up into engine bay and then get the nuts on to stop it dropping out.
Put the damper into the fork, it might not slide in easily, so use your bottle jack to help push it in and align the lower fork bolt holes, slide the bolt back in, do up and then put the bolt back in to hold the damper in.
Put all the brake lines back in their holders.
Hope what you've done is correct.

Alright this was my first go, but it took me way too long, there has to be a quicker way, so please chime in if you know, cos I've to do the other tomorrow and hopefully the rears. The Fur King bolt is already out of the other side, so I just need the drop links to come out easily. I have new bolts for the rear, so if they give me any stool, I'll grind em off, in fact they're in a way that can't be removed without cutting them off.
Make sure you have 18mm sockets, 17mm deep socket, 18mm rachet spanner or impact gun for drop links. Can of Plusgas and WD40. Some of those ratchets torx spanners would be good for wishbones and lower fork bolt.

So any advice on this and the track rod ends would be great. Seriously hoping the rears are the easier!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
201 Posts
I am assuming it is the nut on the ball joint that will not come off as the ball joint is now lose. Soak the nut in WD40 and then you need to get pressure back on the ball joint to stop it spinning. You can use the weight of the car against the jack to do this.

I did the job as you, more for the challenge and satisfaction that I had done it myself but took longer than I expected due to these little frustrations. The suspension change will be worth it though.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,645 Posts
As above, if you put pressure on the joint it should tighten enough for you to unscrew the nut. I have had success in the past by squeezing the track rod end to the hub carrier/arm with vise grips-this tightens the balljoint enough to allow the nut to be unscrewed. To remove the end from the 'threaded bar', undo the lock nut (before you remove the track rod end from the hub carrier). The end will unscrew from the threaded bar. You will need to hold the bar to prevent it turning. You can get reasonably accurate refit position by measuring from the end of the track rod to the centre of the ball joint. You then refit the new track rod end to the same measurement. You should get it re aligned though.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,165 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
The soaking of Wd40 overnight worked a treat, got nut off and replaced (totally seized on) track rod end, it was jiggered anyway so I'm glad I replaced them both. Kept tracking as close as possible, but it's defo out of whack now, car doesn't really want to return to centre after right lock.

Doing the other side today was a lot quicker, (apart from another 1hr30 trip to Machine Mart), yesterday I'd removed and put back in place the damper holding bolt and the lower wishbone to fork bolt, so no stress there. Drop links were terrible to get off, really wish I'd invested in an impact wrench.

Glad I invested in the Spring compressor, it's pretty easy to use, not much gaffing and it sits in a vice nicely. Got the car back together and went for a very slow test, there were a few little clonks, not sure whether this is usual settlement, but I requested Andrex anyhow. Apart from the tracking being out, there was a pretty cracky noise from the driver's side, enough for me to park it back up, wheels off and strip everything back off even though I couldn't see anything obviously wrong.

Now it's a different story stripping drop links ( especially these Meyle HD ones with a spanner attachment instead of an allen key), upper wishbone, fork bolts and coil over when everything is fresh and copper slipped. I had it stripped, the coil over compressed, damper alignment changed slightly and all back together in about 30 mins.

What I found slightly concerning was that the coil over seemed to want to slanting slightly forwards, i.e. like it din't want to sit straight into the fork. It wasn't much I felt like it needed to go rearwards 10mm. I'm not sure what the reason for this is because the top mounts aren't sided and they're not angled, so as long as the lower guide on the damper is facing straight out of the wheel arch, I can't see how it could be wrong. All the codes on the Eibach's are facing straight out of the wheel arch too, which they've done on 2 cars I've had with Eibachs.

Did a bit of prep on the rears, opted for the angle grinder on the drop links, sick of battling drop links, top bolts came undone easy enough, but I've a feeling the shock bolt is going to be pain. Couldn't shift it, so it'll get a daily dousing with Wd40 until Saturday. I've got new bolts to go in, but I didn't order nuts, so i can't angle grind the old ones off.

After refitting the front driver's side stuff, I still had a cracky noise, turns out and I hope it's only this, the locking nut on the damper isn't done up tight enough, so if I push up and down on the wing, the damper goes up and down about 5mm and the nut cracks on the top mount. Thought I'd tightened it up off the car but remember this one span a bit, so what I thought was tight was not. There must be a special tool needed to do this as not the usual allen key fitting on top of the rod, it's a sort of 4x 6mm rectangle. Only way I think I can feasibly sort at home is some inner tube on mole grips teeth and hold the spindle as high up as I can get to.

I've heard of garages either not wanting to quote for suspension overhauls or spending a lot more time than they charge for. I lift my hat off to them, on 7 year old components, it's a total arse of a job.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
373 Posts
Anyway, in the true tradition of AO, I thought I'd do a guide.

1. Make sure your phone is charged up, you'll need it.
2. Find a copy of Yellow Pages.
3. Find a specialist garage.
4. Phone em and beg em to change your suspension.
5. Take it to them, drop it off..
6. Do something with your Kids.
7. Pick it up and pay.
8. Enjoy!
Next time you have to run down to the shops, see if they might happen to have a time machine in stock.

:lol:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
354 Posts
When I did this job myself a couple years ago I found it fairly straight forward except for problems with furking bolt! Lower bolt on rear lower strut should come out easy enough as it had to go in that way. Mine was 'the wrong way round' but came out by angling it and then a very gentle drift with a hammer.

The cracking sound is likely the top front wishbone passing a jutting out bit of plastic on the wheel arch liner. That was the case with mine.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
3,476 Posts
When I did this job myself a couple years ago I found it fairly straight forward except for problems with furking bolt! Lower bolt on rear lower strut should come out easy enough as it had to go in that way. Mine was 'the wrong way round' but came out by angling it and then a very gentle drift with a hammer.
Mine was the same, gotta love these cars :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,165 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Mine was the same, gotta love these cars :)
It was reading your day delay on fitting experience that made me pre order some new bolts and an angle grinder.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,165 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Well as said in another thread, I had a complete nightmare with the rears. Even with the spring compressed you have little room to get the coilover to clear its upper aperture. Then the bottom of the shock slipped further down into its mount and I couldn't shift it. My heavy duty compressor broke, but luckily I got a replacement, in fact I wanted a refund, but they could only do that during the week, so I thought I might aswell see if you could sort the rears out.

After much struggling, over an hour in fact, I managed to get the damper free. I got my spreaders out, took the axle stand out from under the rear arm and put some tension between top of wheel well and suspension arm, this allows you that 20mm extra to be able to get the lower damper mount bolt in.

The other side didn't take too long so I thought I'd take the driver's front off again (that's 3 times)as I'm getting nice and quick at doing it. I said earlier that when I pushed down on the wing there was a clonking, sounds real bad whilst driving. I traced it to the top damper nut not being screwed down its thread enough, so off with the suspension.

These Bilstein B4's are pretty hard to tighten up if you don't have a special tool. Basically the damper thread sits inside the top mount so you can't get a ring spanner on and if you use a deep socket, the damper rod turns. I ended up grinding some spanner flats into the top of the damper shaft, they'll be covered by the bump stop so shouldn't give any grief. Spring was compressed as much as I dared so I put the top nut on and tightened up until it didn't want to go anymore. Kicking myself now that I didn't measure how much thread was exposed because I put it all back together and it's still clonking! Check against the other side and there's about 4mm more thread exposed on that one. It's amazing how bad it sounds, it just reverbs.

I took it for a few miles drive as the rears were looking a bit high, but it's all at 104mmfrom top of wheel to arch, doesn't look any different to TI stance which is perfect.

Hard to gauge the ride because of the clonking and the alignment feeling way out, but I think I'm going to be very happy with it. Obviously with all the other parts I've replaced, the car feels more together, some of the bits I pulled off were duff anyway. It's going to be comfy ride, the dampers just letting the springs give a bit instead of controlling them way too quickly for my liking.

I'd happily do the fronts again in the future, but wouldn't do the rears again, way more difficult than the fronts.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,165 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·
HAd the front drivers's off another couple of times today, the top bolt really didn't want to play ball. By the end of all the performance, I think it was a combo of the top mount bore not shifting easily enough down the shaft therefore not hitting it's stop and the nylon nut being a pain to tighten up. I ended up stripping the damper thread:mad: by hand just to try and get another 3 or 4mm tighter. Thought it must be near enough, put it back on car, much better, but still a little knock. Off again to risk if I could get the nut off and maybe put some thick washers in so the nut wouldn't have to go up the thread too much. Nut didn't want to come off so had to use the pressure of the spring to help the nuts vacation. Thinking I should've left it until it gets to the Pro's, I tried the nut back on, didn't tighten up anywhere near enough so I ended up putting one of the original dampers back in just so the car is drivable.

So here's hoping AL can re thread the shaft otherwise it's a new damper.

I've Edited post 1 to give a bit of a guide.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,645 Posts
Haven't done this on an Alfa but just recently replaced the shocks on our Audi A6. Is there no way to hold against the nut on the top of the shock. The Audi had a hex fitting in the top of the shock. It needed a deep ring spanner (which I didn't have) to undo the nut and I held the shock with a hex socket. I was able to use an old Mountfield lawnmower plug spanner to fit in the recess of the top mount and undo the nut -it fitted perfectly! I have also seen flats on the top of the shock to hold against. They really don't appear to be that tight. Sounds like you might have cross threaded the nut which is why it did not do up tight enough. Bad luck just.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,165 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
The front damper thread is concealed within the top mount, so you can't get a spanner onto the bolt whilst having another 6mm ish spanner to hold the top of thread (often an allen key fitting). So unless you have a special tool that you can see in various youtube clips, (it's a sort of ratchet socket that can fit an allen key down inside it), it can be stiff with the nylon bolts. I searched the web for one of these tools, but apart from finding others had had the same problem, I couldn't find one.
One tightened up without having to hold the shaft, so perhaps I did cross thread one from the off, amazing because the bolt is really easy to start on the threads.

Anyway, if anyone reading this is after a set of spring compressors as these https://www.machinemart.co.uk/shop/product/details/clarke-cht747-1000kg-professional-coil-spring
I'm selling them and will also include a set of 2 laser compressors that Halfords sell for £30, one of which hasn't been used. £210 worth of kit, yours for £130 posted to U.K.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,645 Posts
Is it so recessed that a deep ring spanner will not fit on the nut? Usually the if the nut screws easily up to the nyloc part then it should be ok and does not sound ike it was cross threaded. Perhaps the thread on the shock (or the nut) was damaged. In any case it is unfortunate. Hope AL can sort it for you.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,165 Posts
Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Had a stress relieving phone call with AL today, so car shall be safe and sorted soon.

Here's a pic of a top mount with an original shock poking out. It's only the hex bit that is above the surface.
 

Attachments

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,165 Posts
Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I've had what I thought were either warped or deposit ridden brake discs for quite a few months, fair bit of vibration when braking from upwards of 60mph It dawned on me at the weekend that the brakes are now fine after all the suspension work. Both track rod end ball joints were shot, maybe it was them? but either way, I've saved myself buying new discs. Kind of wanted some Mtecs though.
 
1 - 15 of 15 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top